Amy Balkin + Alicia Pozniak

Amy Balkin +Alicia Pozniak, Sutro Ruins Ocean Baths, 2011

Click here for more information about the 2011 Sister City Biennial.

About this project:

Sutro Ruins Ocean Baths is an architectural proposal to transform the footprint of the ruins of San Francisco’s Sutro Baths into a series of Sydney-style public bathing pools. The project grafts the architecture of Australia’s popular oceanside, surf-fed rock pools onto the site of the ruins of a former Victorian Bathhouse, once the largest in the world, and destroyed by fire in the 1960’s. Keeping San Francisco’s cold ocean temperatures and fog belt in mind, seabed or surface wave power energy would heat a series of pools to hot-spring and warm-pool temperatures.

While the Sutro Bath ruins are managed by the National Park Service and future development of the site likely restricted, the proposal will be delivered for consideration to the appropriate parties. If built, Sutro Ruins Ocean Baths would bring a new, public recreational architecture for heated saltwater bathing to San Francisco, unavailable since the loss of the Sutro Baths in the 1960’s and the closing of Fleishhacker Pool in 1971.

Amy Balkin is a San Francisco-based artist and graduate of Stanford University. Her work involves land and the geopolitical relationships that frame it. Her solo and collaborative projects, including Public Smog and Invisible-5, consider political and legal borders and systems, environmental justice, and the allocation of common-pool resources. Her works have been exhibited internationally, and her ongoing project This is the Public Domain was included in the book Situation (MIT Press, 2009).

Alicia Pozniak is an architect and designer currently based in Sydney, whose work encompasses the fields of art, architecture and design. Her grassroots beginning in art and design studying at the College of Fine Arts UNSW, then moving to architecture at the University of Technology Sydney enabled the pursuit of her ideas about architecture beyond being a socially, intellectually and even professionally divisive practice to design for human experience: to heighten awareness of being, existence and surroundings. Her broad ranging experience, from architectural practice to design production, the visual arts, teaching and extensive travel, has brought numerous successful collaborations, projects and awards to her portfolio of work.


Thanks to Beverly Hennessy and Randall Smith for their help with accessing information about current wave power plans in San Francisco; and to Sheila Tawalo for the use of her ocean pool sketches and archival materials, and insights into the history of ocean baths in New South Wales.

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